Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Blog Tour Stop & Review: The Change Up by Elley Arden

Title: The Change Up
Series: Arlington Aces #1
Author: Elley Arden
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 16, 2016
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Length: 66k words
Format: Digital
Digital ISBN: 978-1-4405-9151-8

Commercial real estate mogul Rachel Reed is the one person her father can depend on, so when he walks into her Philadelphia office two weeks shy of her fortieth birthday to drop a personal and professional bomb, she rises to the occasion. She will help get his independent professional baseball team up and running before the inaugural season, and then … she will sell the team to recoup his substantial investment. It’s a tall order, but Rachel knows one thing for sure: a sexy nuisance from her past and a few acres of trees won’t stand in her way.

Former minor-leaguer-turned-landscaper Sam Sutter is surprised to find his brother’s ex in the woods behind the house he bought when he cashed out his signing bonus and said so long to baseball. He’s even more surprised to learn “his” trees are on her chopping block. There’s no way he’ll desecrate his nature-loving mother’s memory by letting that happen. But butting heads with the beautiful business woman is a tricky task that leads Sam to accept a position as head groundskeeper at her father’s stadium. Working under Rachel’s watchful, smoldering eyes might be Sam’s undoing.

She doesn’t know a thing about baseball. He swore off the sport ten years ago. But strange things happen when field dust gets in your veins.

She thought about that for a minute, thought about him, standing there, looking at her like she was the only woman in the world, and the heat was undeniable. The attraction unmistakable. Sam Sutter was a mouth-wateringly beautiful man. Five years younger and without a discernible life plan, but damn it, libidos didn’t care about those things. And honestly, the only thing holding her back from taking out all her recent frustrations on his blessed body right now was the fact his crew was just outside the leftfield wall.
To neutralize the lust bubbling in her veins, she asked, “Do you miss baseball?”
He looked broadsided by the random question and didn’t rush to answer.
I know that came out of left field …” she grinned at her cleverness, “but I’ve been wondering about it ever since the festival. When my dad was asking you about baseball, you looked very uncomfortable.”
His gaze shifted away from her and anchored onto something in the grandstand, but then he shrugged like she hadn’t hit a nerve. “I was uncomfortable because I was worried about your father. I wasn’t sure what was going on. That’s all.” But his jaw pulsed, and she knew better.
Sam …” She stepped closer, narrowing the space between them. “I saw that same look a minute ago when I asked you to help me out with the coaching prospects. You miss baseball. It’s okay to admit it. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be human. God, you played every year of your life until you were how old? Just because you were ready to hang it up professionally doesn’t mean you don’t miss the game personally.” He looked at her then with a hurt in his eyes that seemed to be saying maybe he wasn’t as ready to hang it up as he pretended to be.
I miss some things more than others,” he said. “There’s a rush you get from playing the game.” Silence stretched out between them as the warm wind wrapped them in the sun-dried fragrances of spring. All the while, his eyes roamed her face until they focused on her lips. “Fortunately you can get that rush from other things.”
Like?” she asked, breathlessly, knowing damned well she was encouraging him.
This,” he whispered before he leaned in and kissed her, a brush of his lips, soft as the breeze that carried the heated scent of his skin to her nose and then to her brain.

The Change Up is so much more than a baseball-themed romance in my first book by Elley Arden.

Sam Sutter retired from playing baseball ten years ago and now works as a landscape gardener in his father's business. During a walk near his secluded property, he's angered when his brother's former girlfriend is negotiating with a contractor to cut down trees that border onto his property. Driven by his late mother's passion for this wooded area, he sets about challenging Rachel Reed with many unexpected results.

Rachel Reed, just shy of forty years old when her father announces he's got Alzheimer's. He gets Rachel to sign a power of attorney, giving her explicit instructions on what business he wants her to conduct on his behalf; a baseball team he bought, that he now wants to sell as quickly as possible.

Rachel isn't instantly likeable. She's a focused business woman, driven to succeed. Yet, as we get to know more about her, you can't help but feel sorry for her as she's sacrificed so much in her personal life to be the 'son' her father always wanted. As she reconnects with her family and gets to know Sam, she's torn between honouring her father's instructions or following her heart to reach a decision that will be the best outcome for everyone she knows. Equally, Sam has his own issues to overcome; torn between playing safe and concentrating on helping his father expand their business or to cease an unexpected opportunity to play baseball again.

The relationship between the protagonists is a slow burn as distrust for each other overshadows their mutual attraction as they initially lock horns over the trees that meant so much to Sam's deceased Mother. I liked them together as they make compromises, which then allows then to explore their lustful feelings in a fling that will be over as soon as Rachel has finished up her work commitments in Arlington. Neither realising they want more for their lives including each other. The author does a great job of highlighting the difficult issues faced by people like Rachel, dealing with a loved one who has Alzheimers. From personal experience, the portrayal of Danny Reed was heartbreakingly accurate.

Overall I enjoyed Rachel and Sam's story but would have preferred more romantic interaction between them.

***arc generously received courtesy of Crimson Romance via NetGalley***

Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who has lived as far west as Utah and as far north as Wisconsin. She drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.
Elley has been reading romance novels since she was a sixteen-year-old babysitter, sneaking Judith McNaught and Danielle Steele novels off the bookshelves of the women who employed her. To say she’d been sheltered up to that point is an understatement. No one had ever told her women could live bold, love freely, and have sex lives that were exciting and fulfilling. (They don’t teach these things in Catholic school!) Now that she knows, she’s happy to spread the word. The women she writes about may be fictional, but the success, respect, and love they find on the page is a universal right for women everywhere.
Elley writes books with charming characters, emotional stories, and sexy romance. Visit The Bookshelf for a detailed listing.

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